Monday, April 4, 2016

Wandering aimlessly, or not...

Map Track Link

Bird List

Sierra Crest south of Walker Pass
Only two days before we start the Pacific Crest Trail, we had some nervous energy to burn off this morning. There was a weekly location eBird gap for Freeman Canyon so off we went for a ramble. Susan was aware of a seldom seen old CCC construction camp location just east of Walker Pass off Highway 178 so we parked there and followed an old (now closed) road toward the crest. We expected neither good birding or flowers in this dry Joshua Tree and Pinyon Pine habitat at 5,000 feet elevation, but we had both! The early end of migration is in full swing and we saw numerous Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows battling the wind to get over the pass on their journey north. There were still lots of White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos in the area, likely finishing up in their wintering location. A gorgeous Scott's Oriole sang from the top of a Joshua Tree near where we parked. Overall we had 25 species which is pretty good for the location.

Flowers far exceeded our expectation with lots of annuals still doing well. We had two new species for the spring - Golden Gilia and Mule's Ears. Coreopsis and purple Gilia were still going strong at this high elevation. It all made for a very pleasant short hike!

Mule's Ears


Tidy Tips and Gilia

Corepsis covers the hillside

View north from our high point on the ridge. Snow covered Mt Kawea, nearly 100 miles away was visible in binoculars.

Purple and golden Gilia

A river of Gilia

Golden Gilia
Two resupply boxes have been mailed to the towns of Warner Springs and Idyllwild. All our stuff is staged in the living room for final assembly tonight. We did a test drive of Susan's pack with her share of 5 days food, all her gear, and the largest quantity of water we expect to have to carry in the desert (7 liters) - it nearly drove her into the ground at 35 pounds. Those long water haul days are going to be tough. It's a good thing we have whittled our base weight (no food, no water) to around 12 pounds. 

Our trail mom and best friend Terri will be over this afternoon for final instructions on resupply mailings and other things. We couldn't do this without her and appreciate all she had done and will do for us more than we can say.

Tomorrow morning early we will depart for the southern terminus of the PCT at the Mexico border near the town of Campo. Great friends/trail angels/Uber drivers Ron and Nancy will pick us up in Inyokern. As avid birders themselves, the drive down should be fun. They are on the hunt for life looks at Gray Vireo and we are headed to a fantastic spot to find them. They offered over a year ago to take us to the border and we can't thank them enough!

We've finished all our last minute to dos including getting our house sitter here and set up. Well, I lied here, we still have to get our Verizon replacement on-line phone account set up, but as they are still writing the software on their end, that will have to wait.

If you've been following our adventures only from our Facebook posts, you'll need to get used to going directly to our blog to follow the adventure. I doubt I'll be able to post blog links to Facebook very often, but we'll see. You can direct link to the blog here:

While you are there, a tab near the top of the page titled "Where We Are" will open the page with our tracking map, updated about every two to four hours daily while we are hiking. A direct link to the map is here:

If you follow us by email only, use the link above to see the map.

Now, how about some fun! Here are your quiz questions. You can drop your guesses in a Facebook comment or on a comment directly to this post. I will answer every one of them when we return from Canada! We will have to negotiate the prize with the winner. ;-)

1 -  How many bird species will we see on the trip?

2 -  How many days in California will we NOT see a Raven?
3 -  How many eBird Lists will Susan do on the trail?
4 -  How many new California County birds will Susan get?
5 -  How many feet blisters will we get combined?
6 -  How many steps will Bob record on his iPhone (includes all trail and camp/town steps)?
7 -  What day (almost certainly in September) will we finish?
8 -  How many days will we get rained/snowed on? (this one is for Barb and Rosie)
9 -  How many times will Susan eat ice cream?
10- How many toenails will Susan lose?

It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to. -- J.R.R Tolkien

After years of planning, it's time to get this adventure started! It should be a helluva ride, thanks for coming along with us.

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